The FBI recently released tips on how to protect yourself from mortgage fraud:

  • Get referrals and check licenses for mortgage and real estate professionals. FBI says most of them are honest, but it pays to check.

  • Don’t just rely on your real estate agent for home prices in your area. Do your own research into what homes have recently sold for and what tax assessments have been.

  • Watch out for “no money down” loans. FBI says these are gimmicks used to put people into homes they cannot afford.

  • Don’t let anyone talk you into lying on your mortgage loan application. Many cases of fraud came from real estate agents or mortgage brokers encouraging borrowers to overstate their incomes or to lie about the sources of their down payments.

  • Never sign a document with blank lines. If you’re unsure have an attorney look at it for you.

FBI also warns you to watch out for scams if you’re facing foreclosure. Never sign your home over to someone else – even if they promise it’s only “temporary.” In many cases the scammers have sold the home out from under the homeowner.

August 19, 2008